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Project introduction

Early safety improvements were carried out on this route in February 2019. More extensive improvements such as roundabouts and safety barriers are currently being designed, with construction scheduled to get underway late 2020.

  • Estimated project cost

    $29 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status

    Design, Pre-construction

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State Highway 3 is an important connection between New Plymouth, Waitara and beyond. It connects the Taranaki and Waikato regions, providing an important link for Port Taranaki, the New Plymouth Airport and major industries to the rest of the upper North Island.

Busy intersections, speed and roadside hazards like power poles and ditches cause safety issues on the road. There were 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 people were seriously injured.

Many of these crashes happened at intersections or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, power poles and deep ditches. There have also been head-on and side-on crashes.

Traffic is increasing on this part of SH3 which is causing delays, particularly for commuters. Anticipated residential and business growth in the area is expected to increase traffic which will create more congestion and make it difficult for drivers to get on the highway.

About the project

Following engagement with key stakeholders and the community, early safety improvements were carried out in February 2019. More extensive safety improvements are currently being designed, with construction scheduled to get underway late 2020. This work will help improve safety on the road, reduce crashes and ease congestion.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has partnered with New Plymouth District Council to build a new roundabout on SH3 at De Havilland Drive, providing motorists with safer access to the airport following the realignment of Airport Drive. New roundabouts will also be constructed at Princess Street, Waitara, and SH3a intersections.

The roundabouts will make these intersections, which are some of the country’s highest-risk intersections, safer and help ease congestion on the route. They will be built over three construction seasons to help reduce the impact on traffic and residents, with construction of the first roundabout scheduled to start at the end of 2020.

Sections of roadside barrier and median barrier will also be installed in high-risk areas and the road will be widened in places to give drivers more space to recover if they lose control and run off the road. 

This project was originally split into two sections, but all safety improvements will now be delivered as one project by the Transport Agency. 

SH3 Waitara to Bell Block speed review

In response to feedback from the community, we recently reviewed speed limits on this stretch of road and consulted on a proposal make the speed limit a consistent 80km along the entire route. Find out more about the proposed changes to speed limits

The submissions for this consultation are currently being analysed. We expect to be able to announce an outcome in the coming months, which will be published on our website and we will also notify our stakeholders and the community.